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Moving in circles : a brief history of reports and inquiries relating to mental health content in undergraduate nursing curricula
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Brenda Happell
Since the abolition of specialist, undergraduate education in mental health nursing, serious concerns have been raised about the inadequate amount of theory and clinical experience devoted to this specialty in most pre-registration nursing programs in Australia. A number of government initiated reports and inquiries have been undertaken to scope the problem and provide recommendations with the aim of overcoming the identified deficits. Most inquiries have agreed that mental health nursing is under-represented in undergraduate programs and this has serious consequences for establishing a sustainable mental health nursing workforce and for providing optimal care for people experiencing a mental illness.The recommendations tend to support the continuation of comprehensive nursing education, but emphasise the need for increased mental health content. Terms like significant and substantial are often used which are not easily quantifiable. The repetitive nature of the recommendations and findings of the reports suggests that real change is not likely to occur unless specific minimum standards for the mental health content of undergraduate nursing programs are set.